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9 Tips to Increase ‘Newbie’ Writer Confidence

07 May

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Dancer

By Wanda Octave 

All writers believe in their work. Introvert or not, you write because it’s in your DNA. And when you pen your masterpiece, you know that you have developed a brilliant piece of literature that someone would love to read. But… fear keeps it hidden.

Fear of Rejection

  • Fear of what others will think.
  • Fear of writer’s poverty.
  • Fear of taking the leap.
  • Fear of sticking to it for the long haul.
  • Fear of whatever new reality pops into our heads at any given moment.

This has caused many bestselling manuscripts to die in the laptops and shelves of ‘the shy writer’.

Fear Holds Writers Back.
Fear, is the only thing holding good writers back from greatness.  My biggest fear has always been losing my words. As a published author, I am great on paper, but I fear losing my words in a live forum. And though there are many great online marketing sources, you have to put yourself out in the open to market your work. People want to ‘hear’ from the author at some point. Fans want to meet you. And inquiry minds want to know about you. And on many levels.  I have no problem with that. In fact my book is based on life lessons learnt largely from my own life, so my life is literally ‘an open book’. I am shockingly candid at times and ‘tell it like it is’ without fear of judgment. In ‘real’ life, I also love meeting people and talking about my book, about life and about their experiences. But when Cameras, microphones, and a sea of faces stare up at me, I’m suddenly afraid of losing my words.
As a newbie this is normal, but I’ve heard that it happens to established authors too. This is only my first book so my trip to OZ has been slow and rocky, I am becoming more confident as the months roll on. By this time next year, I’ll have a different article for you. In the meantime here’s what I’ve learnt and what has worked well for me:

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1. Send Interview Questions Before Hand.
Include a list of sample interview questions in your media kit so that you know what to expect and are comfortable with your answers. I used to  be worried about repetition but each interviewer somehow has a different flare or twist and though the answers are the same, they are different every time. Also sometimes the interview may move in a particular direction and you get to cover a lot more than your core questions.

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2. Have a Conversation Instead of an Interview.
It is a good idea to research your interviewer so that the interview can have more of a friendly flow. Easing your book into a ‘conversation’, makes it relate-able and relevant. If time permits, it is also beneficial to have a casual chat with the interviewer, or producer with the cameras rolling. Many times you reveal a lot more interesting information then, than during the actual interview.

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3. You Will Need to Think on Your Feet.
When I sit with my thoughts, the words don’t just flow, they gush! It’s not the same when you’re the center of attention in front of a live audience. So I usually come up with a plan of a beginning, middle and end, and fill in with personal experiences in between. I understand that it is the experiences of life that connect us and I want to connect with the sea of faces in front of me. If I only have three things to remember, ‘beginning, middle and end’ then it is less difficult to ‘lose’ my words.

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4. Hide Behind Radio.
Doing Radio is like having a one on one. At first, the prospect of hundreds of people listening to me made me started having a conversation with the announcer and literally forgot that there were hundreds or thousands of people listening.

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5. Do A LOT of Book Signings
I absolutely love book signings. It is a great way to meet people. A perfect sales medium and an excellent way to build your confidence as a writer. I do book signings at books stores, malls, events, street fares, you name it!  And I have met a wide spectrum of people, many of whom have helped me grow my business.

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6. Everyone Will Not Love You.
As it is in life you will get your share of critics and you will need to develop a tough skin. People will be judgmental and condescending, but if you believe in your message/story, it will be enough. Always remember why you decided to become a writer and remind yourself too of the many lives that you have changed through your work.

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7. Go to Conferences.
If you want to learn to be more effective in public, it is a good idea to go to conferences that you would like to speak at in the future. Recognize what each speaker brings to the table. Learn different presentation styles. See what you can offer that can add value to a future conference. Then write an awesome proposal and start pitching for next year. You may be a newbie this year, but hopefully a pro by next year.

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8. Make Yourself Interesting.
Connect. Connect. Connect! Keep it real. I believe that we connect with each other through our experiences. And we all have the same experiences, our circumstances are just different. Tell your story. You will be surprised how many people can relate. The most popular feedback that I get, is that the stories in my book are relevant. When a reader feels that you understand them, they become a fan.

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9. Hang Around.
I like to chat with staff at the radio and TV stations and talk to the audience after a conference or event that I attend or speak at. The bulk of my book sales come from book signings and ‘back of the room’ sales. Because my book is relatively new and I am not an established writer, I have to make a personal connection with potential readers. And being available for a chat gives me an opportunity to do one-on-one marketing, have in-depth personal conversations or sometimes a mini coaching session. I have learned that people are more likely to purchase your book when they connect with you.

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Finally, there is also a whole world of online marketing out there which I am only now starting to explore. I have to learn to put myself ‘out there’ both in the physical and virtual world. It’s nice to be at home, while out (in cyberspace) at the same time. I’m sure it’s not as easy as hiding behind my laptop though. I’ll have to gather all my self-confidence tools and start over.

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Bio:  A former Marketing professional, Wanda Octave worked in the fields of banking, real estate and tourism before fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She currently resides on the tranquil Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia with her husband Simon and daughter Kelci. Find more information at www.wandaoctave.com and her Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/dp/9769555711 

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